In the fight against the Coronavirus (COVID-19) UNRWA staff are on the frontlines

07 April 2020
In the fight against the Coronavirus (COVID-19) UNRWA staff are on the frontlines

Letter to Staff on World Health Day

In the fight against the Coronavirus (COVID-19) UNRWA staff are on the frontlines 

I address you on this World Health Day in the midst of a crisis without precedent in living memory as the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to circle around the globe. It is a virus that is ‘menacing the whole of humanity’, as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said, and ‘the whole of humanity must fight back.’ As the virus will not stop at the gates of Palestine refugee camps throughout the region, you – the Agency’s staff members and UNRWA medical and environmental health workers - have taken on this challenge and have started fighting back without hesitation. Serendipitously, the theme of this year’s World Health Day is a celebration of all nurses and midwives who are often at the frontlines of medical emergencies. Today, however, I want to celebrate all UNRWA staff members who stand at the frontlines, unwavering and untiring, to fight this invisible enemy which has already changed life as we know it.

On this day, as on all days since this crisis started, I salute the doctors and nurses who bravely continue to provide primary health care at all UNRWA clinics and have started to implement triage care to identify pathways for patients with respiratory symptoms; I salute the pharmacists and workers in central pharmacies across the region who come to work every day to ensure that some of the most vulnerable amongst us receive two-months’ worth advance medications to reduce the risk of infection among this group; I salute the laboratory technicians and workers; I salute the environmental health  staff and all staff who have been called upon to perform deep cleaning not only of our clinics, but also of the schools and training centers and all other critical UNRWA installations; I salute the sanitation laborers who continue with the critical solid waste collection in order to prevent environmental health hazards, first and foremost COVID-19. These are the staff at the very frontlines of this fight, who perform their duties at grave risk to themselves, yet without hesitation.

Further, there are other staff members without whose dedication we could not present a solid response against the effects of the coronavirus that go well beyond the impact on the physical health of the community. I salute the teaching staff, social workers, food distribution workers, finance staff and all others, who have taken on the challenge of making sure we handle this enemy and minimize its devastating impact on our communities.  It is an enemy we must face up to together, a battle we must confront and respond to resolutely. However, without you, there would be no response.   You are the heroes of this historic moment and we will prevail because of you. 

I say again that the virus knows no boundaries and will not stop at the gates of a refugee camp, in either direction.  UNRWA stands with you today, as it has for the past 70 years, to confront this new and unprecedented challenge. Knowing and seeing the determination of all our staff fills me with great pride and confidence that we will succeed.  

For more information, please contact:

Sami Mshasha
Director of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)258 90724
Tamara Alrifai
UNRWA Spokesperson
+962 (0)79 090 0140